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The Mind Of The Geek Essential iPad Accessory List


Getting a new iPad?  While the iPad can stand on its own as a great device, it’s the accessories that make it even better.  Nowadays it seems you can find accessories for your smartphone or tablet anywhere from Amazon to eBay, and from Wal-Mart to the Dollar Tree.  With so many to choose from, it can become a daunting task in choosing the best accessories to go with your device.

Mind Of The Geek has done waded through the garbage to find the gems.  These accessories not only look good, but also serve a function to enhance your iPad experience even further.

Even with the advent of Gorilla Glass, carrying around a tablet all day, or even in your own home, means that you are carrying around an object where at least 50% is made of glass.  Fragile, breakable glass.  You can say to yourself “I’ll just be extra careful” but if anything life has hopefully taught you is shit happens.  And unfortunately, when shit happens with your new iPad, it’s a $500 to $850 object that is now worthless.  Here are some of the best ways to keep your iPad’s glass crack and scratch free at minimum, all the way up to pretty much accident-proofed.

Apple Smart Covers.  Sleek and Stylish with Minimal Protection.  Apple released their Smart Covers last year with the iPad 2, and they quickly became the de facto cover for your new iPad.  Not only do they offer protection for your screen when not in use, but they also provide the ability to automatically lock and unlock your iPad when you open and close the cover.  Using rare earth magnets, these covers easily “snap” into place on the side of your iPad and then when you place the cover of the screen completely, the iPad immediately sleeps and when you remove the cover it immediately comes back to life.  These offer a basic form of protection, and do a decent job of protecting your screen from scratches and nicks while being carried inside of your bag or luggage.  They come in two flavors, the poly covers will run you $39 and the leather cover $69.  Each comes in a variety of colors to match your individual taste.  For the most basic form of protection, the Apple Smart Cover is your best option.  Also, if you are an iPad 2 owner upgrading to the new iPad, your existing Smart Cover will work, so don’t throw it away or give it up!

Otterbox for iPad.  For Life’s Oh Shit Moments.  Otterbox has made a name for itself in the smartphone case market as being a top-notch case for protecting your device from everything life has to throw at it.  The Otterbox iProtection series for the iPad offers maximum protection for your iPad.  It has three layers of protection.  The Otterbox is made up of three parts.  First there is the polycarbonate shells that snap together to form a seal around your iPad, locking out dirt, dust and other debris.  Built into the shell is a high strength screen protector that protects your screen from scratches and nicks while affording the same touch experience.  Then a silicone wrap is placed over the polycarbonate shell for further protection.  Finally the Otterbox includes a holster that acts as a stand as well for portrait and landscape viewing.  Anyone with young kids who love to use your iPad should seriously consider this case.  We have tested these similar designs on the iPhone and have dropped our iPhones onto pavement from stomach height and our iPhones didn’t suffer any damage, although we wouldn’t recommend trying it yourself.  But for the “oh shit” moments that life likes to throw at us, it doesn’t get much better than the Otterbox.  The Otterbox will set you back $90, but consider it an investment in the future of your iPad.  You can learn more about the Otterbox here.

The iPad can be a great way to surf the web, play a game, or do some work while listening to your favorite tunes on the iPod, or other online services such as Pandora, Rdio, Tune in Radio, etc.  However, unlike the iPhone or iPod Touch, the iPad does not come with the standard Apple headphones.  And frankly, you wouldn’t want them anyway.  Apple makes amazing devices, but headphones is not their specialty.  We are going to break down some great options for headphones to get the maximum music experience out of your new iPad.

Earbuds.  The Cheap, The Good, and The Best.  Nowadays, you can pretty much go anywhere and pick up a set of earbuds.  If you’re strapped on cash, or not really concerned about good sound, do yourself a favor and go down to the Five Below or Dollar Tree and just get a cheap set.  They are all about the same, and are minimal investment.  However, consider this, your new iPad supports HD quality video, so why not treat yourself to HD quality sound?  For the serious audiophile, we hands down recommend the Beats by Dr. Dre earbuds.  These earbuds will literally knock your socks off.  Developed with technology from Monster, and specs from Dr. Dre, a man who knows good “beats” when he hears it, these earbuds are by far superior in audio quality, clarity, tone, and response.  Our review of the HTC Rezound with Beats Audio resounded the same feeling, calling it the “phone for audiophiles”.  Beats Audio earbuds can be quite pricey though, coming in at around the $100 mark.  Other worthy contenders are Bose and a high-end Sony may be a little less heavy on the wallet and offer good sound, but not as good as the Beats Audio.

 

Bluetooth Headphones.  Great Sound Without the Wires.  The new iPad supports Bluetooth 4.0, the latest Bluetooth specs, providing a improved connection and response.  Many of us know Bluetooth from using our phones over Bluetooth, whether it be to a headset or through our vehicles to talk on the phone.  However, Bluetooth can do much more.  It powers the Wii and PS3 controllers, along with some remotes and home automation devices.  But it can also support full range sound via wireless headphones.  Besides Beats Earbuds, this is our method of choice.  Look at Bluetooth headphones from Rocketfish or Motorola, as we have found these offer the best of both sound quality, and range.  With Bluetooth headphones you can literally listen to your music while having your iPad up for a recipe while cooking and moving around the kitchen with no restrictions.  Other uses include working out at the gym, or even cutting the lawn.  Why live in a world of restricting wires when you can have the freedom to move about while still getting great sound.  Bluetooth headphones can range from anywhere from $20 to over $100.  A great place to start is eBay, where you can usually score a good deal on a good set of these headphones.

Bluetooth Keyboard.   For the Serious Typist or Workhorse.  Apple has done a great job with the onscreen keyboard on the iPad, but let’s face it, nothing is as fast as typing away on a keyboard, especially if you are trained the proper way to type.  Getting over 200 words per minute on a touch screen is going to be a lot more difficult to attain on a touchscreen.  The iPad’s Bluetooth can also support a Bluetooth keyboard to assist you with typing out those long emails to mom, writing that school paper, or writing that long blog post.  When looking for a Bluetooth keyboard, consider your comfort first.  Getting one too big, or too small, can seriously be a pain in the ass.  Our suggestion, go down to your local Best Buy or electronics retailer and check out their keyboards, see what feels right to you.  As a fallback, you can always use the Apple brand keyboard.  Also, consider looking into the cases with keyboards built-in for added convenience.

The Apple TV

Our top accessory for your new iPad is the Apple TV.  That’s right, its not a case or a keyboard, but rather a whole other device.  However, the Apple TV when married with the iPad offers more enhancements to your iPad experience.  At $99, its a bargain for the added functionality your get with your iPad.  AirPlay now supports wireless mirroring of your iPads display, meaning that you can display whatever is on your iPad’s screen on your big screen TV.  Imagine being able to share your photos with your friends and family on your HDTV, while still navigating as you would on your iPad.   Or playing a game on your TV with your iPad.  Games such as Real Racing 2 HD support 1080p wireless mirroring, giving you a console quality game on your TV for a fraction of the price.  Sharing YouTube videos, yep, that’s included.  How about streaming your music over to your home theater system?  AirPlay really can do it all.  You can even use AirPlay to mirror your display and surf the web on your TV via Safari on your iPad, and it looks a hell of a lot better than Microsoft’s WebTV did.

Whichever accessories you choose, remember that your accessories should enhance your experience or serve a purpose.  Avoid purchasing accessories that may look cool, but end of being a waste of money.  In the end, your choice of accessories could determine the experience with you new iPad, as well as its longevity.  An investment now in the right accessories will pay dividends in the future in more ways than you know.